Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Recipes - Cake Balls

Alternatively titled: How cooking/baking is a metaphor for my twenties.

So I mentioned yesterday morning that my friend Beth stopped by on Friday night to pick up her camera that she had left with me at an event at Candler on Thursday night.  We ended up looking at some of our favorite cooking blogs and decided to attempt to make cake balls - we found recipes at The Pioneer Woman, Bakerella and Kelly's Korner to work with.

Cake Balls

1 box cake mix (we used golden butter / yellow)
Oil/Egg/Water/Etc. to make cake
1 can frosting (we used cream cheese)
Almond Bark (you could also use melting chocolate)

Bake cake according to directions on box

Here's Beth with our cake.  Isn't she pretty?  She grew up in Iowa, which I just think is the coolest thing ever.  I think her parent's farm in Iowa is probably bigger than the entire state of Connecticut.  We met in our first year of seminary when we were both student interns at a homeless shelter.

Bake in a 9x13 pan - I'm not sure this is necessary, but just seemed to be the simplest option

Allow cake to cool

(We grew impatient and put our cake in the refrigerator)

Once cake is cool, crumble it into a big bowl

It should look something like this
And your face should look something like Beth's, because - let's face it - it's fun to crumble a freshly baked cake into a ba-jillion pieces

Add can of frosting

Mix until well-combined

It should look something like this

Using a cookie scooper, scoop balls of the dough onto a cookie sheet


I repeat ... LET HARDEN.

I say this with such fervor because Beth and I were tired (it was closing in on midnight - I told you, impromptu) and we wanted to get to the almond bark coating.  We had some difficulty coating the balls because they started to fall apart and it was hard to get them out of the bark.

But you get the general idea - melt the bark (or chocolate) and dip the balls in them
(We melted the chocolate in the microwave, but you could do it on a double broiler on the stove, too)

Put on wax paper to harden

I had sprinkles so we decided to decorate a little

Now - do you notice how the balls aren't coated in some place and they aren't exactly round?  This was what I was talking about when I said that we didn't let the them harden enough before we started the coating.

HOWEVER ... It was late and we didn't coat all of the balls - I put the uncoated ones in the freezer and took them out today, completely hardened (but not frozen) and ready to be coated.  It was AMAZING how much easier it was to coat them in the bark when they weren't falling apart.

See what I mean?  They look a lot cleaner.

So the moral of the story is:
1. Don't rush through something (like the cooling process) just to get it done faster - take your time and learn how to do it right (even if it takes longer to cool - the coating process will go much more smoothly).
2. If something doesn't turn out perfectly the first time, don't be discouraged - try it the next day and you'll be amazed at how much you know / how well you can do what you are trying to do (compare picture #1 to picture #2).

The funny thing is - the lessons that I am learning in the kitchen are the same lessons that I am learning in my twenties.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.


p.s. Photos taken with my new camera - what do you think?  I'm loving it!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Light of God

Sometimes I just need a visible reminder that God is present in my life.  When it is possible, I light candles and just let myself be taken away by the flickering light.  I did this tonight.

Growing up, I would always help my mom lead the Maundy Thursday at our church (this is the service where many Protestant churches read the Passion Narrative where Jesus is put to death on the cross).  We would split the narrative into eight parts; we would start the service off with nine candles lit (eight taper candles and one pillar candle) and after each part of the narrative is read, one taper candle is extinguished.  At the end of the service only one candle remains lit - the pillar candle, the Christ candle.  This is the light that reminds us that even in our darkest hour - even on the cross - God's light still shines.

Even in our darkest hour - God's light still shines.

A Human Tragedy

After a long week, Bruce and I did not really have any Friday night plans other than cleaning up around the apartment and watching NCIS reruns.  My friend Beth stopped by to pick up her camera that she had left at an event at school and we ended up reading cooking blogs and deciding to make cake balls.  We had so much fun comparing recipes as things were baking and cooling, tasting as we went along, watching Friends and taking pictures of the whole process.  I fully intended to post the recipe today, complete with pictures, tips and metaphors for life.

But then I woke up and heard about the earthquake in Chile.  I'm watching live reports of Hawaiians bracing for a Tsunami.  I heard some heartbreaking news about a family friend.  I laid in bed and cried until Bruce brought me into our living room to watch TV.  I thought about drying my tears and proceeding with my intended post - but it just didn't seem right in light of all that has gone on this morning.

This is the tragedy about who we are as humans.  You really never can plan for what is going to happen in life.  We all do our best to prepare for the unexpected, but often times it really does not to any good.  We constantly find ourselves in balance between the fun of friends and late-night baking with the bad news of natural disasters and friends in pain.  We have to find a way to live with this juxtaposition - and, to be quite honest, it just really sucks sometimes.

So today I am praying for all of God's children all over the world who are looking for and worrying about loved ones, trying to survive amidst the rubble of disaster, preparing for the worst and making difficult decisions.  I invite you to do the same.

I look at this human tragedy as a challenge - and know that my faith in God is the greatest tool I have to keep me strong as I navigate through it all.

Tomorrow I will be back and post my Friday Night Fun.  Because even in the middle of tragedy we all have to find a way to live.  We have to smile, we have to laugh and we have to embrace each moment - because each one is precious.

May God grant us all peace, hope and courage through life.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Sweet & Spicy Weekend - Spiced Applesauce Bread

I promised on Monday that I would post the recipe I used to review my new loaf pan from CSN stores and I am here to follow through.  This blend of sweets, spices and nuts will be the perfect way to kick off your weekend.  Enjoy!!

Spiced Applesauce Bread

1 1/4 cups applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan

In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, oil, eggs and milk; beat well

Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt; stir until smooth. 

Fold in the pecans. 

(this is Bruce chopping the pecans in our Tupperware 'lil Chopper that I got years ago)

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean

Let cool


Note: I have no idea what it means to "fold in the pecans" - I just stirred them in, seemed to work out just fine!!

Everybody, have a great weekend!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Excited Does Not Even Begin To Describe It

Guess ... 

... what ... 

... came ... 

... today?

Now if I could just figure out how to speed up the shutter speed?  I've somehow slowed it down.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taco Seasoning

Alternatively Titled:  Opportunities that arise when you fail to plan your menu and do not have all of your necessary ingredients.

After a busy weekend, Bruce and I did not do a very good job of planning out our menu for the week (maybe it was because I had a certain baby on my mind?) so we have kind of been winging it so far.  Actually, that's a lie - I was in class on Monday night and ate leftovers and last night we went out to eat before going out to see our friends - so, technically, tonight was the first night we were home to cook.  Anyway, we decided to make chicken tacos because we had just about everything - except for the taco seasoning to put in with the meat.  The thought crossed my mind to just grill the chicken without it, but, really - who wants bland tacos?

Then the thought crossed me that I could probably make my own taco seasoning with the spices on the spice rack that I got for my wedding.  Sarah and I were talking today about how easy it is to make basic things that we normally don't think twice about buying.  Sarah was reading a food blog that talked about making yogurt and I was telling her about making tortillas with Bruce the other night - both really easy, definitely cheaper than buying them and I love that I know exactly what I am eating.

I did a quick search and came across so many recipes for taco seasoning and tried it out - and it worked!!  Here's what I did ... 

Taco Seasoning 
(adapted from All Recipes)

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic power
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients

Store in an airtight container


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baby Bliss

I really thought that I would have nothing to blog about tonight.  I was up until 2 a.m. this morning writing a paper, up at 7 a.m. to go to a meeting to go over said paper and then had class until 2:30.  Nothing overly exciting, but still pretty typical in my life.

But THEN - Bruce and I went to visit some of our friends from church who had a baby two weeks ago and ... sigh ... I literally sat and held a precious sleeping baby for two and a half hours!!  Seriously - y'all with children - how do you stand it?  They are SO CUTE!!

So anyway, the funny thing about little Max's birth story is that I was having an e-mail conversation that night with Angel - who had the little one - ten minutes before her water broke about a camera I wanted to buy!!  I literally did a double take when I woke up the next morning and saw the e-mail that said he was born, because I was so confused as to how someone goes from e-mailing about cameras to welcoming a baby into the world in five hours!!  Childbirth really is miraculous.

Anyway (there is a point to this story, I promise) Angel asked me tonight if I had ordered the camera and I told her that I kept chickening out because of how expensive it is.  But she swore up and down it was a worthwhile investment and got me thinking about possibly finally placing the order.  I had been given some money for my birthday and had a positive balance on my Amazon account so I realized that the cost wasn't nearly as much as the bottom line said it was.  I also found this while I was cleaning out my closets this weekend ...

... pennies that I have been collecting since college.  I never really thought pennies were worth much, but it turns out that when you save them for three years, you get something that looks like this ...

... $25.50 worth of wrapped pennies!!  Yes - you read that right.  $25.50.  I was shocked.  Before I wrapped them, Bruce and I tried to guess how much money it would add up to.  I said $9, Bruce said $8.50.

In the end - I am glad that we were way off.  All of that money went into the camera fund!!

Okay, so back to the drive home. (I swear this story has a point) I had actually asked Bruce not to buy me anything for my birthday (other than the cake of course!!) because I wanted to put that money into the camera fund.  He respected this request (which is hard for him, he loves giving gifts) and we have also been really good about our resolution to cook more and eat out less.  So I was really left with no more excuses.

So I came home, took a deep breath and clicked, "Proceed with Order."  It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time.  In a few short days I will be the proud owner of a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi.  And I absolutely cannot wait.

There you have it.  I held a sleeping baby in my arms for 2 1/2 hours and bought a dSLR camera.  Never mind the fact that I am operating on less than five hours of sleep, I would say that makes for pretty much a perfect day.

And you know what?  I am not tired whatsoever. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

CSN Review

Do you remember this post?

If not, let me catch you up.  I was contacted by CSN stores, an e-commerce company based out of Boston, about doing a review of one of their products.  I decided to review the Reston Lloyd PrepCo Bake Porter Loaf Pan with Serving Cover.

Let me start of by saying that I was extremely impressed with the staff over at CSN.  Not only did they give me (and other bloggers) the opportunity to review and giveaway their products, but they were also incredibly accommodating and prompt with everything from helping me find something to review to getting it shipped as quickly as possible.  Ever since I received the loaf pan, I have gotten some great coupons by e-mail ($10-$15 off, 20% off, etc.) so I look forward to ordering form them in the future.

Okay - now onto the fun stuff!!

So how do I like my loaf pan?  I LOVE it!!

Here I am getting it ready to be used.  There are several basic reasons why I think this is a phenomenal product:
1. It has a cover (perfect for storage and traveling for potlucks and coffee hours)
2. The cover has silicone edges, which makes it really easy to get it off and on
3. It is nonstick
4. The cover can be used as a serving dish (and it comes with instructions on how to create both a hot and cold serving dish)
5. It comes with recipes!!

Bruce and I made Spiced Applesauce Bread, which was definitely going to put this loaf pan to the test in the oven.  The bread needs to stay moist, but also needs to be cooked through without burning or drying out.

It was phenomenal.  I took the bread out a few minutes earlier than the recipe called for, but that had more to do with my oven than the pan.

After I cut into it - the inside stayed so moist, I was amazed.

And the best part?

Easy storage!!  No messing with tinfoil or trying to find a container to store it in.  I love the top.

If you are interested in the product, check it out here.  And I would definitely recommend checking out CSN stores for all of their products.  The price is right and the selection is incredible!!

Want the recipe?  I will post it later in the week (trust me, you're going to want to stick around for it).

Have a great Monday!!

Now for some legal chatter:  I was contacted by CSN to do a review of one of their products and was given this product free of charge.  However - the opinions I expressed in this post were completely my own and not prodded by anyone over at CSN.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Headlines - Thoughts on the Circus: I'll Be Back

I was driving home from school yesterday and the surface streets in Atlanta were gridlocked.  I know, I know - I live in Atlanta, I should be used to the traffic.  However, it was 6:45 p.m. and things were still a mess.  Atlanta traffic is bad, but at that point in the afternoon rushhour, things shouldn't be as bad as they were.

So then NPR cuts to the traffic report.  "Blah blah blah ... accident on the connector ... blah blah blah ... right lane blocked on 285 ... blah blah blah ... there is a Zebra loose downtown."



photo courtesy of the ajc

Man, traffic was a zoo!!

Sorry - bad joke.  In all reality, the Zebra escaped from the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus, which is in town for performances tonight through Sunday.

Only in Atlanta.

So Bruce texts me this morning and said that he heard the Zebra got out AGAIN.  So I was all, "Seriously?!  I'm watching Tiger Woods do the whole 'tail between his legs I'm working on becoming a better person' thing and now I have to go on another Zebra hunt?!"

So I pull up the AJC to investigate and all of a sudden all thoughts of Tiger's apology and the Zebra's tour of Atlanta flew out of my head because I saw the following headline:
Schwarzenegger named Emory's commencement speaker
That's right, folks.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is speaking at my graduation.  I will be receiving a time honored degree in theological studies and I will be hearing nuggets of wisdom from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One the bright side, one day when I am serving a church, I will be able to stand behind the pulpit during a sermon on Jesus' message of peace and say, "You know ... when I graduated from seminary, the Terminator offered me the following advice that I'd like to share with you today ..."

OR when I get to the point in my career where it is time to take a two or three month Sabbatical, I can say to my congregation, "Don't worry ... I'll be back."

Oh my ... I have never needed a Friday more.

Y'all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Tonight I had the honor of presiding over the Ash Wednesday service with my pastor.  It really is an incredible worship experience and a fantastic way to kick off the 40 day journey we are all about to take through Lent.

I thought the best way to reflect on the service is just to share my reflections themselves, the meditation that I used as a welcome in tonight's service.  I think it tells the story of why this service touches me so deeply.

On a different note, as I was setting up this afternoon, the sun was hitting our new stain glass just right and the light just seemed to spill on the freshly draped cross.  It was exquisite, I couldn't help but grab my camera.

Isn't it strange how you can see the presence of God in a worship space - even when worship is four hours from happening?

Peace and blessings as you enter into this Lenten season,


Good evening – and welcome to our service of worship marking the beginning of Lent.

The church I grew up never once hosted an Ash Wednesday service. In fact, they were vehemently opposed to the idea, saying it was too morbid, too ritualistic, too – well – Catholic. Year after year, I would watch my Catholic classmates come to school marked with ash on their forehead and I quietly wondered what it would be like to have ashes cling to my forehead.

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but it wasn’t until last year when I was serving as a student intern here at Pilgrimage that I took part in my first Ash Wednesday service. And as much as I wished I could have experienced the imposition of ashes long before that point, the absence of it in my life gave me 24 years to think about why I – as a protestant, as a member of the United Church of Christ, as someone who experiences God in the ordinary – wanted to take part in this ritual.


In a very basic sense of the service, Ash Wednesday is about remembering our own mortality. It’s not supposed to be uplifting or cheerful. We don’t bring in the brass and splash the sanctuary with poinsettias and lilies. We came from the dust of the earth and the ashes clinging to our foreheads remind us that – in the same way that Christ clung on the cross – we are all mortal. We will all return to the dust of the earth.

But what does that mean for us, today? What does that mean for each and every one of us as we enter into this 2010 Lenten season? Seasons of the Spirit, a lectionary based educational and worship resource that we use at Pilgrimage, described Ash Wednesday in the following way:  In many traditions around the world, the time just before Lent is a time of trying our other identities, wearing masks, a carnival. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a time of inner revealing. We confront the reality that sometimes our prayers are efforts to show God our best sides, rather than our most broken selves. It is a time to unveil to our own awareness the true contours of our hearts, including the shadowy parts. We see and wear ashes not only in grief for our mortality, but also in a sense of freedom. In God’s loving way, forgiveness, justice, and renewal aren’t all up to our efforts and goodness. Our spiritual work is to make all dimensions of life and community available to the renewing love of the Holy One.

Tonight, when I receive my ashes, I won’t be the same person that received ashes last year. I’ve changed, I’ve grown; maybe for the better, who knows? But the beauty of who we are as Christians is that every year we get a fresh start to re-experience God’s grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The beauty of who we are as members of the United Church of Christ is that no matter who we are or where we are on our journey through life, we are welcomed at this altar and invited to feel the ashes on our skin.

Is Ash Wednesday supposed to remind us of our mortality? Yes – but that is not all that it is designed to do. It is designed to remind us that even though we are all entering this journey through Lent from different places, emotions and periods in our lives, we all enter together. We are connected by the ashes that cling to us, by the grace of God shown as Jesus clung on the cross and by the hope we have that Jesus’ message of shalom will one day be peace on earth.

Today denominational barriers are ripped down as Christians all over the world wear ashes together. Differences in race, gender, age and class are gone because the ashes we wear are all the same. We walk into this Lenten season together. No matter who you are, no matter what your journey looks like right now – here, at this altar, with this ash – we all walk together.

Let us worship God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Birthday Cake on Steroids

I thought it was only appropriate to share my birthday cake on Fat Tuesday ... 

Bruce asked me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday and I was having a really hard time deciding what kind he should order.  What's a husband to do?  Well ... as a matter of fact ... 

... order five different flavors of cake from the Marietta Diner.

Yes, the same Marietta Diner seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.


Yep, I'm spoiled.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How Sweet the Sound

Alternatively Titled:  Filed Under - Things I Never Thought I Would Post on My Blog

A couple of weeks ago I posted a list of ten things that make me happy and one of them was playing the saxophone.  I heard a couple of "I didn't know you played the saxophone"'s from people, which made me realize I didn't talk about it much.  I started playing when I was 8 years old (my father is a music teacher, so it was kind of assumed that my sister and I would play at least one instrument).  All through elementary school I played the tenor (my parents bought me one fairly early on), picked up a baritone in middle school and played that through high school (yeah, picture my 5'5 frame lugging around that big baritone saxophone - what was I thinking?).  When I got to college, my band director (who had majored in saxophone and was incredible to study under) encouraged me to try the alto.  I loved it, convinced my parents to buy me one and have found sabbath in playing ever since.

I haven't had many opportunities to play since I left Ursinus, but my music director at church will hand me a piece every now and then and I am always thrilled when he does.  This particular piece I love - it's called How Sweet the Sound and it was arranged by Mark Hayes.  It is essentially an arrangement of Amazing Grace.  I played it in church on Sunday and grabbed the Flip Camera on my way out the door and had Kari record for me.

Disclaimer:  The sound quality is terrible (it's hard to hear the choir because the pianist and I were right in front of the microphone on the camera), I was a little out of tune because the song was in the middle of the service (and I was about an hour away from my warm up) and you can pretty much only see me during the video (not the rest of the choir)  - sooooooo I hope you like my outfit, ha!!


How Sweet the Sound from Sarah Weaver on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

We're not really big into Valentine's Day around here, but our friends Kari and Gib were in town all weekend and the boys offered to cook on Saturday night as a pre-Valentine's Valentine's Day celebration for Kari and me.  And who am I to pass up a multi-course meal (they even did the dishes!!)?

Kari and I weren't allowed to know what they were planning or even what they were buying when we were at the farmer's market.  Actually we left for a majority of the cooking process (oh, darn, we had to go shopping while they were cooking).  Right before we left for the farmer's market I overheard Bruce say to Gib ... "pssst. psst. psst. ... dessert ... psst. psst. psst. yeah, we have tabasco."

Dessert?  Tabasco?  Yeah, I was a little confused.

Curious as to how it all turned out?  Check out the dessert video ...

Gib's Valentines Day Dessert from Sarah Weaver on Vimeo.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Midnight Walk in the Snow

Perfect ... Birthday ... Ever.

Today marks 9 months since the wedding - I cannot believe how fast this first year is going!!  It has been absolutely incredible.

(Can you believe how much snow Atlanta got?)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Meeeeeeee!!!!!

Look what mother nature sent me for my birthday ... 


It's really coming down right now - luckily it's still warm enough that the roads are just wet.  The best part?  Bruce and I BOTH got sent home from work early - what could be a better birthday present than being snowed in with your husband?  I love it!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Southern Living

It's 8:45 on Thursday morning and I'm sitting on the 5th floor of the theology building at Emory, getting caught up on e-mails while I wait for my 9:30 class to start.  Here is the view from where I am sitting ... 

My mother-in-law sent Bruce a text with a picture attached yesterday morning.  Here is the view from where she was sitting ... 

Yeah, sometimes this southern living isn't so bad ... 

To all my northern friends and family - good luck digging yourselves out!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


My birthday week is off to a great start!!  Over the weekend my wonderful sister sent me an iTunes gift card and ever since I opened it I have been dreaming about the NCIS episodes, apps, games, movies and songs that I can buy with it. (Any suggestions?)

Then I got this in the mail today ... 

This may very well be the best invention ever.  You go online and quite literally customize your chocolate - you "Chocomize" it.  AMAZING.

My other half Sarah sent this for my birthday and I would be lying if I said I was going to wait until Friday to rip into that bad boy.

Side note.  Last year Sarah and I instituted "Wear a Dress Tuesdays" because dressing up is fun and since we live 800 miles away from each other and can't watch Gilmore Girls together on Tuesdays like we did in college, we can at least do something together.  So this morning I took a picture in the mirror and texted it to her with the message, "It's Wear a Dress Tuesday!!"  When I got out of my morning meeting I checked my phone and saw a picture message from her.  She was wearing the EXACT SAME DRESS.  No - we didn't plan it and no - we didn't even buy the dresses at the same time.  We are just special like that.

Anyway, if you want to Chocomize your own tasty treat, check out their website here.  You won't regret it.  In fact you may very well waste hours of your life trying to put together the perfect formula.  In fact, I think that's what Sarah did when she was placing my order.

Thank you Bethany and Sarah for already making my birthday special!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Birthday Gift

So last night I had a post all planned out in my head bemoaning the fact that on Friday, February 12 (this Friday) I would be turning 25 years old.  I was planning on writing and posting it today.

It's not that I don't like my birthday.  In fact, I usually am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and birthday wishes extended to me on facebook, through e-mail, texts and phone calls.  It's just that 25 seems so ... big.  It's a quarter of a century and I just feel that at this point in my life I should have it more together than I do right now.  It is not just the fact that I am turning 25.  It is that fact that this birthday is combined with my pending graduation (less than 100 days!!) and uncertain future (will I get into this CPE program, will I be passed through for ordination, how hard will it be for me to be called to a church once I am passed through, etc. etc.).  This birthday is serving as a reminder that I am making that transition from student (something I have done for all but three years of my life) to working adult (something I have never done) and I would be lying if I said that I was calm, cool and collected.  In fact - it is more accurate to say that I am terrified.

So the sarcastic post about my age, my quarter life crisis and the fact that for the next three months Bruce will be two years younger than me was all but written in my head as I fell asleep last night.  But before I got a chance to write it down today, something happened that made me see my forthcoming birthday differently.

I attended the memorial service of a student at the school of public health this afternoon (for those of you that don't know, I work in the office of student service's at Emory's school of public health).  He was a second year student, on track to graduate in May, was 27 years old and his death was unexpected and certainly untimely.  I sat in the back and watched his parents and his brother mourn during the service.  I listened to his friends talk about his sense of humor and the dean list off his impressive academic and professional accomplishments.  I turned to one of my co-workers and said, "No parent should ever have to bury their child."

This young man would have turned 28 in September.  And I don't know how he felt about birthdays - perhaps he thought the years were moving too quickly towards 30, maybe he loved the possibilities each new year will bring.  I don't know - I can only speculate.

But I do know that he will never celebrate another birthday with us again.  And at the moment that I realized this, I vowed never to complain, never to roll my eyes, never to whine or to throw a tantrum about a birthday (no matter how "big" it may be) ever again.  Life is short and it is full of the unexpected and I should treat each birthday - each new year - as a precious and fragile gift.

So there you have it - I am turning 25 in four days and I am already overwhelmed and humbled by what I have been given.

... And I am going to try to celebrate this week!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

The other day I was moving around some furniture and cleaning out the area behind our couch when I came across a few of those reusable shopping bags.

And when I say "a few" I mean ... 34.

34 reusable shopping bags.

Apparently Bruce and I are the greenest people in Atlanta.

Or perhaps we are just lazy and forget to bring the bags into the store, yet still are plagued with environmental consciousnesses and therefore buy more once we get inside the store.

We decided to put the bags into the trunk of our car.  We figured that the likelihood of us using them would increase if they were actually IN the car when we arrived at the store.

Fast forward to today on our way home from church.  Bruce and I did some menu planning for the week (I've been inspired to try this by SnoWhite over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen - we'll see how this goes!!) and put together a shopping list for me to take to the grocery store.  As I was gathering my keys, wallet and phone, Bruce said to me, "Don't forget, the bags are in the trunk."  I responded with a confident, "Right, right, right.  Have a nice run."

So I get to the store and realize that 2:00 on Superbowl Sunday is perhaps the worst time to be at the grocery store.  I didn't want to mess with the crowds and don't mind walking so I just found a spot towards the back of the parking lot and took the hike into the store.  I grabbed a cart and was just about to head towards the deli when I suddenly realized ...

... I had left the shopping bags in the car.

I'm not going to lie.  The thought crossed my mind to just carry on and try to remember next time.  It was a beautiful day, the store was only going to get more crowded as people got out of church and I wanted to get home and take a long walk before kickoff.  But we bring entirely too many plastic bags into our apartment every week, we genuinely do try to live as green as possible and Bruce had even REMINDED me that the reusable ones were in the car.

So I took a deep breath, returned the cart, hiked back out to the car and retrieved the bags.

It's not easy being green.

(But somehow I do not think that was what Kermit was singing about.)

You all have a great week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A New Kind of TGIF

There are so many reasons to thank God on this Friday!!  One of my favorites?

I got this all ready to mail today.  In order for me to be ordained in my association, I need to complete a unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education, essentially a learning chaplaincy program).  Because of our wedding, I couldn't apply to do the program last summer, so I am applying to do it this summer (and bumping back my ordination a couple of months).  This application has kind of been hanging over my head because there is no specific deadline, it requires a lot of time and I've had a lot of school deadlines push it to the back burner.  But I finally finished this morning, got my references checked out, proofread all of my essays and got it ready to be mailed out first thing tomorrow!!  YAY!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keeping Sabbath

I am taking a class this semester called Keeping Sabbath.  I'm not going to lie - I didn't really think that I was going to learn much in this class.  I know that keeping Sabbath is a strong theological concept that pastors need to integrate into their lives.  I know that it is important to think about self care as I enter into the ministry as a full-time vocation.  I know that ministry is one of the unhealthiest vocations in the entire country.  I know that the largest percentage of students using the Emory University Counseling Services come from the School of Theology.  I know that it is important to set boundaries with my parishioners and with my friends and not take on their anxieties.  I know that the mind, body and spirit are connect and it is important to try to be healthy in all aspects of my life.

But apparently - I suck royally when it comes to actually implementing what I know and keeping Sabbath. Our professor told us that - in lieu of class this past Tuesday - we were each going to separately keep Sabbath and then convene and talk about our experiences at our next meeting.  I wrote about my experiences this morning and thought that I would share them here.  Feel free to leave your thoughts and let me know how you keep Sabbath - or if you do!!  Is it hard for you?  Have you found something that works or are you still looking?  I look forward to hearing what you all have to say - so many of you out there have such different day-to-day lives than I do so I think it will be really helpful to compare.


Keeping Sabbath

I have never been very good at keeping Sabbath. It is hard for me – especially in the middle of the day – to stop what I am doing and take some time for myself. My brain does not shut off and I am always thinking of something else that I could or should be doing.

When I was given the hour and twenty-minute opportunity to take Sabbath on Tuesday, I looked at my calendar and realized that it was empty and I would be able to head home after my early morning class and keep a longer Sabbath there. In my head, I listed off the countless ways I could keep Sabbath at home that I would not be able to if I were on campus and went on my way.

My Sabbath started off rocky. I “had” to stop and check in at work (even though it was my day off). I just felt that since I was not in class I was in some way obligated to do so. I ran around at work for two hours and was frustrated at myself for even going in. When I finally made it home, I couldn’t settle down. I folded laundry. I put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher. I started pacing back and forth.

When my husband realized what I was doing, he told me that I was not doing a good job at keeping Sabbath. He recommended either sitting at my desk and doing homework or legitimately committing to do what I was supposed to do. I took him seriously, picked up my knitting and settled on the couch in front of some mindless television. And that is where I stayed for close to three hours.

And it was wonderful. I felt relaxed and refreshed. I knew I hadn’t done any work, but also felt confident that – after my 7:00 meeting that night – I would be able to focus on schoolwork for a couple of hours.

I left at 5:30 for my meeting, 50 minutes earlier than I normally would have left to get to church (it is a 40 minute drive). I was concerned about traffic and wanted to get there a few minutes early.

An hour later, I sat trapped on Cobb Parkway, knowing full well that there was no way I was even going to be on time. Traffic had been stop and go for the entire drive; I sat at green lights and did not move, intersections were blocked and brake lights were all I saw on the horizon. I texted my associate pastor and told her I was stranded with no end in sight. She was very understanding (it is Atlanta traffic, after all), but I hated having to tell her I was going to be late. Hated it – I simply do not like to be late.

A half an hour later my meeting was beginning and I was still stranded on Cobb Parkway. I had moved forward, but barely. I was frustrated beyond belief. I had been in the car for over an hour and a half, my foot had been on and off the break, people all around me were driving like maniacs (not the word I used at the time) and now I was late. And it was at that point that I lost it. I turned off my music because I did not care if Carrie Underwood thought that the mountain that I was climbing was just a grain of sand. I called Bruce and cried. I hit (albeit lightly) my hand on the steering wheel. I yelled at the driver of the Nissan Altima that flew past a line of traffic (that I had just sat through) in the turn-only lane and then cut me off to get into my lane. I leaned my head back and screamed. “I left early, this isn’t my fault!!” I said to myself.

Eventually I (safely) got to my meeting. Everybody was understanding, I was able to get caught up, we got a lot accomplished and eventually I was back on the road heading home – this time with no traffic.

But I still felt like I was there; on Cobb Parkway in twilight, surrounded by drivers just as frustrated by the traffic as I was and late for my meeting. When I finally got home, I went straight to bed. My earlier thought that I would do homework was gone; I climbed into bed and tried to go to sleep. But I couldn’t seem to fall asleep – I felt anxious and frustrated. I had not fully calmed down from something that happened nearly five hours earlier. I tried to breathe slowly in and out but I could still feel my heart beating faster than normal. Eventually – a few hours later – I fell asleep.

I learned several very important lessons that day. I joked with my husband about the first lesson being never going to work on my day off, but I think there is something very valid in this statement. It is important to put up boundaries and to keep them. Yes, eventually you may need to bring them down, but an ordinary day with no emergencies is not the day to do that.

Secondly, I learned that it is important to stay calm under circumstances that are beyond my control. There was not only an accident on Cobb Parkway while I was driving to church, but also on the highway, which infiltrated the traffic on Cobb. I could not control that and I could not control the other drivers dangerously trying to slide in an out of traffic. I could only control my own reaction and to do what I could to ensure my own safety.

Finally, I realized that keeping Sabbath for a few hours does not mean that you will be cool, calm and collected for the remainder of the day. I was disappointed that I had been so deliberate about keeping Sabbath and then essentially ruined my efforts. Keeping Sabbath is not just taking a nap from time to time; it is a constant effort that will require diligent attention on my part.

I love ministry; I thrive off of it. But I am a human being with faults and limitations. I am not perfect. I am a work in progress, still learning how to keep myself strong and healthy so that I am available to do what I feel like I am called to do.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just Call Me Roger Ebert ... I'm Doing a Review!!

As the wedding approached last summer, one of Bruce and my favorite things to do was go out to our mailbox and see if any wedding gifts had arrived.  People were so generous and we got so many wonderful gifts, including a slew of new kitchen gadgets.  We love cooking together and experimenting with new products and materials.

That being said ...

You can probably imagine my surprise, excitement and overall giddiness when I was contacted by CSN Stores to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products!!  CSN is an e-commerce company based out of Boston that has over 200 online stores (!!) - so, yeah, basically ... you can find anything.

I, of course, headed right over to to ooh and ahh over things that I could potentially review.  Along the way I found a store that sells mirrors in every size, shape and color, one that sells different gym and fitness equiptment, an entire site dedicated to shoes and (this may very well be my favorite) All Modern Pet (Lilly has no idea what may be in store for her).

Seriously - there is a store for everything.

I browsed around for awhile before settling on the Reston Lloyd PrepCo Bake Porter Loaf Pan with Serving Cover to review.

I ultimately decided on this because I love homemade bread (whether it be whole wheat that I can make a sandwich with or something sweet I can grab for breakfast) and I love that it has a top so I can preserve what I make without constantly using plastic wrap or tin foil.  PLUS - it just screams "pot-luck" and oh my how I love a good pot-luck.

So stay tuned for my review.  And definitely check out CSN in the meantime.  Seriously - with over 200 stores, you are bound to find what you are looking for.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Week, New Month!! (Let's not talk about the fact that this is the month that I turn 25)

Happy February!!  I hope everyone's week/month started of fabulously.  I finally got back to work and school days after a couple of days off to ward away any cold/sinus/infectious germs I might have been carrying around and, I have to say, it was nice to not be testing the limits of bad TV.

I really don't have anything coherent to say tonight - I am on kind of on an academic high (I'm a dork and get like that sometimes) because I just heard an awesome guest lecture from Janet Cooper Nelson, the chaplain at Brown University.  She was talking to my Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context class about the history of religious diversity in the United States and about how we really need to approach the divide between church and state.  She was fascinating, because she absolutely believes in a secular government (and public universities and schools) but also absolutely believes that religion should be taught in the public schools.  It was fascinating to hear her talk about how the country was founded on principles of religious freedom but - due in large part to immigration - a dominant religion emerged.  It's weird when you start thinking about the history behind it all (this is coming from a person who did not do particularly well in her history classes).

ANYWAY I really wanted to post this adorable video that Bruce took yesterday with our new Flip Camera. (I am doing a directed study and will need to do interviews later in the semester.  My advisor suggested looking into Flip Cameras to record the interviews and I am so glad she did!!  It is such a cool and easy to use video camera and it connects directly to your computer - I would definitely recommend it for anyone out there - especially those with small children.) Even though I was taking the morning off from church, Bruce needed to go because it was our week to volunteer with Little Lambs (ie children's church).  When he got home he said he had something to show me and it was a video of all of the "lambs" shouting, "FEEL BETTER MISS SARAH!!!!!"  My.Heart.Melted.  But I decided against posting a video of someone else's children on my blog (can you blame me?) and thought I would just tell you all how cute it was.  Really.  Adorable.

And - because I hate posting a completely pointless post without a picture, I thought I would show you one from the weekend.  One of the best parts about living in the south and having access to a farmer's market is the fresh produce year round.  For example ...

Fresh strawberries dipped in sugar in the middle of January.  Delicious.

Have a great week!!
Related Posts with Thumbnails